Yesterday, I acquired my newest fan: a 1 1/2-year-old. I have to say it was quite an accomplishment.
I headed to the Boston area this weekend to spend time with my best friend from college, mom to the aforementioned toddler. She and her husband (also a friend from college) are expecting their second baby in July, so I thought it would be the perfect time to visit before things got too crazy for them.
While my friend was tending to her son—keeping him entertained, putting him down for a nap, giving him a bath, etc.—I cooked. Before our excursion to Whole Foods, she told me that her son is generally a healthy eater. He loves fruit, hummus and eggs; however, he's recently backed away from meat and vegetables. It's not that he won't eat them, she said, it just has to be prepared a certain way.
Immediately thinking it might be a textural thing, I decided to make a pureed soup and load it with vegetables (celery, celery root, onion, garlic and potatoes). I even added some shredded chicken for protein, hoping he wouldn't notice. I'm happy to report the soup was a winner: The little guy woke up from his afternoon nap (and apparently the next morning as well) requesting a bowl of the pale green puree. "He had two bowls before 10 a.m.!" my friend texted me.
Celery gave us a reason to celebrate.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large celery root (or two small roots), peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 celery bunch, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine (This is certainly optional. I didn't use it when I was making it for my friend's son, but I add it at home for another depth of flavor.)
2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock (You can use vegetable stock to make it vegetarian; I just prefer the taste of chicken stock.)
1 large russet potato (or another starchy variety), peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded with a fork (optional)
2 cups cooked brown rice (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parsley, chopped for garnish
1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the celery root and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Add the celery stalks, onion and garlic and cook another 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Stir frequently.
3. If doing so, add wine to deglaze. Reduce by half.
4. Add stock and potato. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft enough to be pierced with a knife.
5. Turn off the heat and puree with an immersion blender in pot. You can also puree in a blender in batches; just be careful not to fill the jar too high because the heat could make the top explode. If using a blender, return to pot.
6. Add shredded chicken and rice, if desired.
7. Season with salt and pepper. Serve and garnish with parsley.